We at Discount Dance Supply are thrilled to honor such a deserving individual with the Teacher of the Year Award. Congratulations, Ms. Garcia!

Trista Garcia, like many other dancers, found the studio to be her second home. She did more than just dance at Melody’s Studio; she developed deep relationships with those around her, and in turn, she came to consider them as family. Never in a million years would Trista have thought that the studio she grew up dancing in would be hers one day, but at the age of 30, Trista became owner of Melody’s in Antioch, CA. Trista’s main focus is to have the studio be a place where her students can feel safe and can enjoy themselves. She knows that some students aren’t happy at home or have long days at school, so she strives to make the studio and dance an escape for them. In addition to the good works she does at the studio, Trista spends her days as a special educational instructional assistant at her alma mater, Antioch High School.

I had the privilege of interviewing Trista about her life and love of dance and here is what she shared with us:

1. How old were you when you took your first dance class?

I was 3 years old when I first attempted dance at the community center, but I restarted at Melody’s when I was 5 and have been there ever since.

2. If you could describe in one word how dance makes you feel, what would it be?

Only one word is hard, But  one definitely would be alive.

3. What is the best part of being a dance teacher?

The best part about being a dance teacher is sharing my passion and love for dance with kids and watching them grow to love it too and also watching them turn the studio into their home. It’s where they grow up and find their best friends and where they all love to be, it makes me so happy to watch.

4. Did you always know you wanted to teach?

Yes , for as long as I can remember. One of my best friends Kim and I used to talk all the time about owing our own studio together and being dance teachers when we grew up . Every  time I would go to her house to play when we were kids we would make up dances in her garage and show our parents or do them at our school’s talent shows. We now both teach at Melody’s together along with several of our friends.

5. Can you share with us a memorable moment or story that stands out in your years of teaching?

I have so many amazing memories in all my years of teaching but one of my favorites has to be at our last summer recital when my dancers nominated me for this award. At the end of the recital I was making my announcements and Leah,  “my first born dance daughter” snatched the microphone from me and announced what she had nominated me for and how she got all my friends and family  involved and had several of my students and friends  on stage to talk about how me as a teacher and the studio has effected their lives. They had flowers and a plaque for me that read dance teacher of the year. Even if I hadn’t won this award I already felt like a winner. My dance family means the world to me and I am truly touched that they even thought to nominate me. This whole experience has already been so amazing.

6. How supportive was your family of your dancing career?

I have the most supportive parents in the world. Once they discovered my love for dance they did whatever they could to put me in as many classes as They could. They  never missed a performance, competition or even a parade in all my years of dancing. My mom has a special yell she has done from my first recital all the way to now from the audience so when I am on stage I can hear her and always know where she is even if I couldn’t see her with the bright lights in the crowd. She is my biggest fan and always believed in me no matter what. She has taken me to countless auditions and supported me in every decision I’ve made , she always made me feel like I was good enough to do whatever I wanted or be whoever I wanted to be which means more to me than she will ever know. Now that I own the studio my whole family is involved in helping me run recitals , hauling props to and from performances and on and off stage, rhinestoning, fixing costumes , driving the float in the parades and everything else you can imagine. I appreciate my family more than anything and I wouldn’t be where I am today with out them and everything they have all done and still do for me every day.

7. What has been the most challenging part as far as pursuing your dance dreams/goals?

The most challenging part of pursuing my dance dreams would be my ankles. I was born with stretched out ligaments in both ankles which caused my ankles to randomly collapse all the time. I eventually sprained them so many times (and of course not allowing them to heal) that the ligament in my right ankle tore in half while I was at the barre in my pointe shoes. This lead to one of three ankle surgeries in four years. My only regret is not having these surgeries when I was younger because now I am a stronger dancer than I have ever been.

8. When you are not in the studio, what are your hobbies and likes?

When I am not at the studio I am  hanging out with my friends, my family, and my fiancé. We all do everything together all the time. My church and faith are also a huge part of my life. God has blessed me in so many ways and still continues to do so every day. I am also an instructional assistant in special education at Antioch High school which is where I also went to high school.